Expert Advice: What Can I Do About A Frozen Pipe That Bursts?
Tips to protect your health, prevent mold, and save money on unnecessary remediation because all that water in your home can cause problems.
The more temperatures slip into the teens and even lower, the greater the chances that pipes will freeze. And when they freeze, they can burst. And that can lead to a whole rash of problems: flooding, structural damage, and mold. And mold can lead to health problems.
“Pipes freeze for three main reasons – quick drops in temperature, poor insulation, and thermostats set at too low a temperature,” says Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental Group, a leading independent environmental testing company serving the northeast for over 20 years. “Pipes often burst when they thaw, so you may be in for an unpleasant surprise,” Weitz continues.
WHAT TO DO IF A PIPE BURSTS:
- Turn off the water at the main shut-off valve and leave the faucet open.
- Try to dry out the area. Damp and wet areas are prime locations for mold growth, which can blossom within 24-48 hours.
- Call the plumber.
- Take photos and videos of the damage.
- Call your insurance company to see if water damage caused by frozen pipes is covered by your policy.
- Call an environmental inspection company to test the affected area for mold. Depending on the age of your home, (anything built pre-1980) you may also want to test for asbestos and lead. This will ensure that when the remediation is done, toxic fibers, dust, and mold spores are not released into the air, contaminating the rest of your house or business.
- Once the repairs are complete, have an independent certified microbial inspector come in to test the area again to make sure there are no lingering toxins.
Why is a post-remediation test necessary?
It’s not unheard of for a remediation company to fix the main water issue quickly, but not allow ample time for floors, ceilings, and wallboard to dry before finishing the job. When that happens, moisture is sealed into these areas, creating a perfect environment for mold to grow behind the walls and under floors. That’s why testing is so important.
First, it will ensure that you are living in a safe, healthy environment.
Second, an independent environmental testing company will provide you with a detailed report that documents that your home is mold-free. This documentation will be important for possible future insurance claims. If your home floods again and mold returns, your insurance company may question whether the mold was caused by the new event or the previous one. Without proof that your home was deemed mold-free after repairs were made, the insurance company might take the position that a new claim is not justified or that you have met your policy limit.
“The most important thing you can do if a pipe bursts is to have your home or office properly tested for mold and professionally remediated,” Weitz states. “To make sure you are not taken advantage of, hire an independent mold inspection firm that does not perform remediation, as they don’t stand to make additional money on a repair,” he says. To that point, a law was passed in New York in 2016 making it illegal for the same company to perform mold testing and remediation on the same job.
If you have questions or would like to book a test, call RTK at (800) 392-6468.